Statement by Governor Thompson on Ames Straw Poll Participation
Statement by the Honorable Tommy Thompson:
From the beginning, a big part of our campaign plan has included the August Straw Poll held in Ames, Iowa. We felt that it would be an opportunity for our campaign to show the strength of our support as well as an opportunity to take our message to a national audience watching on television.
With the recent announcements by Senator McCain and Mayor Giuliani that they will not be participating in the straw poll, it's clear that the competitive landscape has changed.
The straw poll is an expensive exercise even for campaigns with big war chests. Dollars spent on the straw poll are dollars that cannot be spent on direct voter contact. For a campaign to decide to participate in the straw poll means that there are other important campaign activities it cannot participate in.
Nevertheless, the Iowa Straw Poll has become a recent tradition in American campaign politics. During a month with very little hard news, it provides our nation a chance to listen to the major Republican presidential candidates discuss the issues important to the future of our country. The Ames Straw Poll is the best in American politics. More than 20,000 voters from across the state will descend on a town in the middle of Iowa to support their candidate and participate in the greatest electoral system the world has ever known. This is - in every way - a good thing for our country, for Iowa and our Party.
To skip the straw poll is to show fear...fear that a campaign's lack of support will finally be revealed and fear the entire country will see that the king has no clothes.
There's no doubt the stakes are high: eight years ago, four candidates dropped out as a result of the summer straw poll. And with all of the candidates investing heavily in Iowa, candidates who finish in the bottom half of the straw poll should withdraw from the race and support the rest of the field.
I believe the voters of Iowa and voters across the country deserve the chance to hear the uncensored comments of Republicans running for President. If Mayor Giuliani and Senator McCain choose not to take advantage of this opportunity, then I think it says more about their campaigns than it does the Iowa Straw Poll.
I will participate in the Iowa Straw Poll on August 11th. We will take our campaign of conservative solutions directly to the people of Iowa and the United States and let the votes fall where they may. Regardless of the outcome on August 11th, at least it will never be said that I was afraid to put my campaign's organization up against the rest. Lets start the race.